Shocking new information has come to light over the figures quoted in the Walsall Council internal ‘Working Smarter’ film I shared a couple of weeks ago. This video is about an ongoing project to ‘streamline’ working methods at the authority. The video had been found by Walsall Co-operative Labour Councillor for Willenhall north, Gareth Illmann-Walker, who was rightly keen for Walsall residents to see where their Council Tax was going in times of harsh cuts.
The ‘Working Smarter’ initiative is the hobby-horse and pet project of Councillor and Deputy Leader Adrian Andrew, and is costing in the region of eight million pounds.
Further information has since come to light that suggests this costly campaign – slated to save £17.5 million – is not quite the bargain the film would have us believe.
I have recently been anonymously passed an email detailing the projected savings from ‘Working Smarter’, which states the following facts:
- Savings will start in year 2015/2016 at £463,000 per annum
- Savings are not expected to reach the stated amount of £963,00 per annum until 2021/22
- Savings over 25 years projected to be £17.5million
In short, eight million quid is being blown now, and we won’t see a penny of it back until 2015, and the project won’t pay for itself within a full decade.
One wonders just how much that sum will devalue over the period.
This business case is outrageous. As a comparison, I know of a large multinational company that is not prepared to invest in projects that will not show a return with three years. This is in no way uncommon. Councillor Andrew is expecting us all to be overjoyed at the frittering away of £8 million that won’t even recover itself within a decade – at a time when the council is facing £13 million of cuts in this year alone.
No wonder Adrian looks a bit sweaty. I’d have trouble punting a pitch like that. I just wouldn’t have the brass balls, frankly.
I’m sure this will be of huge comfort to those of the Social Care waiting list, those driving down potholed roads and to all of the 160-odd staff currently being made redundant.
In all this, it should not be forgotten that Councillor Andrew has just voted himself a huge allowances rise, clearly in recognition of his own perceived ability.
I think the member should remember that he’s not the judge, we are, and that we’ve seen the result of these ‘money saving’ schemes before. Let’s just say Walsall doesn’t have a great record.
If the opposition are on the ball, this should make upcoming corporate scrutiny quite interesting…